There is an expectation whenever Maniratnam comes out with a product and when it comes after long a gap, the expectation is multi-fold. So accordingly, Maniratnam has ensured a different story and top notch actors as well as artists for his film ‘Villain’, a dubbed version of the Tamil ‘Raavanan’.
Maniratnam has chosen a story that would remind ‘Ramayan’ in modern way. There are three main characters, one being Veera (Vikram), a headman in a village who has his own rules to control his folks, the other being inspector Dev (Prithviraj) who’s paired with Raagini (Aishwarya Rai). The story is that Dev, a perfect police officer moves to a town in Andhra Pradesh where Veera has everyone in his clutches and rules the entire place with his iron hand and his own rules. Nothing could penetrate his atrocity. Dev finds that if anything has to change, it has to be through him and hence it takes on Veera. In the process the weakness of Dev being Raagini, Veera abducts her. The story takes all three into a forest and the way the injured Veera changes is the story all about. The forests selected by Maniratnam and the camera by V Manikandan initially and Santosh Sivan later, can offer the audience much needed green scenes and the life in forests.
Athirapally water falls in Kerala, Thumkur in Karnataka, Jhansi, Kolkata, Mahabaleshwar and Malshej Ghats in Maharashtra are the different locations Maniratnam drilled his screw to churn out a movie of his dreams. Though the movie started somewhere in end October 2008 in Thumkur, it went into hibernation due to sudden illness of Maniratnam who again gave it a life one year later.
This movie has Maniratnam in some other avatars also like script-writer, producer and distributor, meaning he has high hopes on this film. Further these avatars would have given him the much needed independence which also can have a positive impact on the outcome of the film. Not to forget his better half Suhasini Maniratnam known for her acting and oratorical capabilities lending a helping hand in scripts.
Maniratnam’s efforts have roped in yet another great known for his recent best performance fetching him international accolades. He is none other than the Oscar fame AR Rahman. He has already made his presence felt by the song ‘Veera Veera’ which is now on everyone’s lips. With Peter Heins, the stunt master, who received film fare awards for his contribution in ‘Aparichitudu’ and ‘Ghajini’, has given the audience an expectation of an action oriented drama worth Rs 120 crores. With ‘Kalaripaittu’, the martial art from Kerala, the performance of Peter Heins can only further get enhanced.
Vikram and Aishwarya Rai do not need introduction. We have already seen Vikram in ‘Aparichitudu’ where he was correcting the society in his own way. If we call that a negative role, probably the role he is doing now is more intense giving a value to the character ‘Villain’. Yes! Since Vikram is given this role, it is felt that there will be ethical values for what ‘Villain’ does. Well! Who will fail to work under one such great director like Maniratnam who infact wanted him in ‘Bombay’ initially and later the slot went to Aravind Swamy. While the audience in south claims Vikram to be a mix of Rajini and Kamal, this role in ‘Villain’ must be further strengthening their claims.
The Indian peacock Aishwarya Rai’s performance under Maniratnam was evident in ‘Guru’ which fetched her slot in ‘Villain’. The sober face of Aishwarya is a right one for a kind of role she is playing in ‘Villain’ and without any questions she will make her critics praise her.
The recent sensation Prithviraj who has created ripples in Malayalam and Tamil is playing an anchor role in this film as police officer and his personality suiting the role very well can carry the story to the greater heights. He is a budding but promising hero in the south. Priyamani, Karthik, Prabhu and Aashish Vidyarthi play their respective roles which can be seen on the screen.
This big budgeted, star studded film, gulping more than the collections of Maniratnam’s previous film ‘Guru’ is hitting theaters simultaneously in three different languages-Telugu, Tamil and Hindi on June 18th. And if you are skeptical about Maniratnam’s performance, go, hit the theaters to check for yourself.